An Historical Advent

Dr. Donna Orsuto (left) and Riekie van Velzen (right) with Miss Leideke Galema

The Lay Centre began the Advent Season by honoring important figures in its 25 year-long history and welcoming new faces who we hope will play an important role in the future. On the 30th of November, we welcomed a delegation of Trustees and Board Members from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago who joined a delegation of the Board Members of the Lay Centre. The two groups started out by hearing presentations on the Lay Centre and on CTU, respectively.

CTU and Lay Centre Board Members gathered over the weekend for discussion together.

In the evening, during an informal reception, the two delegations heard from Miss Leideke Galema of the Ladies of Bethany who contributed to the origins of the Lay Centre by coming to Rome to open a house of hospitality for non-Christians at the request of Pope Paul VI.

The delegations also heard from the present Lay Centre Student Community, each student sharing their own experience of the “dialogue of life” which is at the heart of the Lay Centre.

Rev. Donald Senior, CP, President of Catholic Theological Union

Basilica of SS John and Paul. His Excellency Rev. Joseph Tobin, CSsR Secretary, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life & Societies of Apostolic Life

David Angeles Garnica, a philosophy student at the Gregorian, introduces the Lay Centre Student Community

They had travelled from different parts of the United States and from Europe in order to meet one another, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Lay Centre and its new Alliance with CTU, and to attend a Colloquium on the Role of Women in Interational Peacebuilding, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives. Watch this blog for an update on the Colloquium soon! The gathering culminated with Mass at the Basilica of SS John and Paul presided by The Most Rev. Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., Secretary, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life & Societies of Apostolic Life.

These events followed upon a a full Fall schedule for the Lay Centre, including the annual observation of Thanksgiving Day Celebration, American style, complete with turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie!

Donna prepares the Thanksgiving turkey.

Keeping up the spirit of hospitality at the Lay Centre is very important. The Thanksgiving celebration was attended especially by Americans who are away from home during this important national holiday. As many commented, the food was great and it was almost as if they were still back home.

The Lay Centre offers hospitality in many ways, including celebrations for students from the Student Community once they complete their doctoral studies. Congratulations to Andrea Ponzone who was able to celebrate the successful defense of his doctoral thesis  in Canon Law with friends and family at the Lay Centre. Andrea lived at the Lay Centre while pursuing his studies and has now returned to his native Torino. Best wishes Andrea!

The Very Rev. Canon David Richardson, The Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See, and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

The Lay Centre also hosted the Anglican Centre in Rome on Friday, 18 of November. The Anglican Centre was holding its annual meeting of Trustees.

His Excellency Alfons M. Kloss and Anna Maria Kloss

On Wednesday, 16 November, the Lay Centre welcomed a diverse group of Ambassadors and Professors to discuss this year’s Assisi Pilgrimage of Truth and Peace, including Austrian Embassador to the Holy See Alfons M. Kloss and his wife, Anna Maria Kloss and US Embassador to the Holy See, His Excellency Dr. Miguel Díaz and Dr. Marian Díaz.

His Excellency Dr. Miguel Díaz and Dr. Marian Díaz

Ari Goldman, Professor of Journalism from Columbia University, attended the Assisi dinner as the Lay Centre’s guest along with his wife, Shira. Goldman is the director of Columbia’s Scripps Howard Program on Religion and Journalism, through which he’s traveled with his classes to Israel, Russia and India. He is well known for his book The Search for God at Harvard, which he wrote after attending Harvard’s Divinity School. He is a former reporter for The New York Times.

Ari Goldman

Shira Goldman shares her reflections on the Assisi Pilgrimage. Pictured also is Rev. John Wauk, Professor at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce.

On Friday, 11 November, Elizabeth Lev launched her new book, The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Contess, Caterina Riario Sforza de’Medici, at the Lay Centre. The reception hall was full of professors, students, clergy and lay people, who wanted to hear about this exciting historical narrative of an extraordinary woman.

Elizabeth Lev cuts the first slice of a cake celebrating her new book.

Elizabeth Lev with her daughter, Claire Giangravè.






Lively conversation ensued during the reception after Elizabeth Lev's book launch.

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